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[These guidelines were originally written for a co-op building, but questions would be similar for a condo, or even a rental property.]
These are just some of the questions you can ask, but it should get you started in a conversation to get a feeling for a possible fit. Note that these days, everyone has glossy folders & brochures, and that may not mean much when it comes to having someone be there for the building in a crisis.
How long has your Company been in the management business? Representative at the meeting: years in business? Assigned Property Manager (who is, preferably, also in attendance): years in business? ( A nice aside would be to know what type of property each owns or rents - esp the ones who claim to "manage like an owner")
How many properties (clients, not # units) does your company manage? (Saying they manage 1200 units sounds like a lot, but if they are all in one complex that has a large on site staff, & that is all they manage, it's just one client!)
How many of the properties under management are co-ops [condos, rental buildings]? Number as well as % (percent can be misleading if it means % of units - see unit comment above)
What's the average number of properties (not units) assigned to each property manager? (6-10 is average; more than that, they will not be able to pay sufficient attention to individual properties.)
Does the Property Manager assigned to the building have a backup contact person/ followup person in the office?
What followup system exists when someone from the building calls your office?
What is average normal response time? Emergency response time?
Who get the calls nights, weekends, and holidays, and what procedure is in place to make sure any necessary action is arranged for?
Does the Property Manager attend all Board Meetings as well as the Annual Meeting?
How often are site visits? Who does them?
What is looked for in a site visit? What kind of report is issued to the Board [owner]
Are employees bonded? Is the company insured?
Is there a web site for building information, as well as emergency and regular contact information for the management co?
What particular challenges does a small (or describe your particular situation) property represent (vs a big one).
What sets your service apart from the next guy?
Make sure you see copies of sample monthly financial reports (some are really cumbersome to slog thru!), and get a time frame of how soon after the month closes you will see one.
Ask for, and check at least 5 references.
Remember that these Management Agreements are written by lawyers to protect their clients (the Management Company) and to further that company's profits. Whichever company you choose, the agreement should be reviewed by your co-op's attorney for conflicts of interest, and for any missing clauses that might better protect the co-op from the effects (intended or not) of mismanagement, or worse, theft or kickbacks.
Make sure that there is at least one qualified person on the Board (hopefully, the treasurer), who carefully reviews ALL financial dealings with the managment company. Apathy is the single biggest factor in management company's slacking off, or worse, taking advantage. So you always need an inside watch dog!
What is Home Performance?
When you buy a car, you expect good gas mileage with low upkeep, safe handling, and comfort inside. In other words, respectable performance. Why would you have any other expectations for a house? The ability of your home to deliver comfort, health, and affordability is what a Home Performance Assessment is all about. Is the home functioning at its optimum? Or are there deficiencies and inefficiencies? An assessment can often determine which cost effective items can improve the performance of your home most!
Are you new to Home Ownership?
Make sure you look at the suggestions on my Renovations page; more useful information on my Real Estate Pages; and an excellent read on the Building Science Corporation's website: The Building Science Guide to Home Ownership! See my LINKS page for more.
Of course, feel free to call (718.941.3725) or email me with questions and concerns!